As a professional copywriter, there’s one question that tends to pop up constantly from my readers and clients … “Can you teach me to write like you?”
My knee-jerk answer is usually something like, “Um. No. There is no other like me! I reign supreme! Me! Me! Me!”
OK, I’m not really that egocentric.
But I do typically respond with something along the lines of “I’d love to teach you how, but I don’t know how I do it … I just do it.” And then I run off to a dark corner somewhere to eat sweet potato French fries like they’re going outta style.
Writing meaningful, effective content day in and day out is difficult. To say the least.
I’ve thought a lot about how I get it done, and have come up 3 steps that serve me well, over and over again.
At least, it’s how I think I get it done
The holy grail for aspiring writers
I’ve struggled to convey just how I (and others I admire) actually write the way I do.
I’ve wanted to teach it in a way that you, the reader, can take and immediately implement on your own.
This is the one question that won’t. Stay. Down! Kinda like that game where you beat the hedgehog down and then an identical one pops up to take its place? Yeah. Like that.
It seems that in my rather meandering journey to becoming a ghostwriter-cum-blogger, I unexpectedly stumbled upon what seems to be the Holy Grail for many aspiring writers.
It’s distinct. I like to think it’s funny and charming. I’ve been told it’s fairly no-bulls***.
Above all, it’s mine, oh mine, oh mine!
Regardless of where I guest blog, my voice is recognizable.
People read my stuff and they’re like “Hey … I know who this is!”
That happens even if readers don’t yet know that I am, in fact, the author. My friend Abby Kerr does this very well too.
You could say that that voice has now become part and parcel of my “brand”.
So, in the interest of fighting the good fight and teaching ya’ll something useful … I’ll now attempt to give you some pointers on how to unearth your own “voice” and write content that oozes your own flava.
In this process, you might even begin to find ways to brand yourself (so be ready!).
Here’s my 3 key steps to finding your voice and brand, mojo-writer style.
1. Speak your reader’s language
This may come as a surprise, but not everyone who reads your site is going to be a Harvard grad that speaks “ivy league” or whatever other language you specialize in.
Most folks reading online are reading at a grade school level.
That means all those big words you use are making people run screaming in the other direction.
It also means that cool industry lingo you’re so proud of throwing around is mostly falling on deaf ears.
Probably not what you intended to happen right?
When we write, we are creating content with a purpose. We want people to read it, to understand it, to enjoy it and absorb it.
Maybe we want them to take action — maybe we just want them to feel good after reading it.
They are only going to feel a whole lot of frustration if everything you say whips right over their head or they feel like you’re talking down to them because you can’t control your insane need to sound smarter than you probably are.
Not exactly warm and fuzzy advice, right?
Stop talking at your readers.
Stop talking over them.
Stop talking through them.
Talk to them, in simple lingo.
Write like you’re plopped down with them and sharing a cup of coffee and a bit of convo. My buddy SuiteJ pretty much nails this style and implements tip number 3 (we’ll get to it shortly) like gangbusters!
The result? You might be surprised at how many of them are willing to talk back with you.
2. Know why you are writing
All the writing skill in the world won’t do you any favors if you don’t know why you’re writing in the first place.
Lack of purpose is the death of success.
When you write something that has a clear cut purpose it’s reflected in a positive way. There is flow, there is rhythm and there is direction.
If you’re writing without a purpose, it’s kind of like doing one of those writing exercises where you just slap every thought that pops into your head onto paper.
Have you ever tried to read those things afterwards? Crikey, it gives me a headache just thinking about it.
If that’s what you’re serving up to your readers, you might as well be handing out free Tylenol in little blog goodie bags. At least that would be useful!
So if you want to nail down your own unique “voice” you need to start with purpose.
From purpose, passion is born.
From passion you are born, in all your unique glory.
Every piece of content you publish should have your name all over it, in more ways than one!
And that leads nicely into my last tip …
3. Brand it, baby
In addition to speaking your reader’s language and knowing why you’re writing in the first place, sprinkle your work liberally with your own little stamps of distinction.
For instance, people who read my content often recognize my voice simply because I use words like shite, or frack, or ya’ll. Or even crikey.
Maybe there are words you tend to gravitate towards on a regular basis, that perhaps not everyone uses.
Or, maybe you have some sort of signature “how ‘dee do” or “fare thee well” that you use regularly.
Maybe it’s not in the words you use specifically, but in the way you tie them together.
Perhaps you like to inject silly jokes or clichés in your content. (That’d be me!) Or maybe you’re madly uncomfortable with writing with a bit of humor and prefer to adopt a 100% serious tone. That’s still branding and it’s OK too (though it may not win you very many friends, just sayin’).
Regardless of which tic you like to tac, there are a variety of ways you can tweak your content and utilize your quirks, so that it reflects you and allows your “voice” to sparkle.
You just have to allow yourself to find them.
There now. I hope you found these three tips useful.
It’s hard sometimes to nail down how to find your “voice”.
The process is often different for everyone and some folks come by it more easily than others. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be learned though, and if it can be learned it can be taught!
Hopefully you’ve learned a little something here today and if you’ve got questions, please drop them in the comments below.
And, if you’d like more teaching, mayhap Brian and Sonia will invite me back sometime
Oh, and don’t forget folks … sharing is sexy! (No really, it is! I swear! Just ask Kristi!)
About the Author: Cori Padgett is a wildly hire-able freelance ‘ghost’ as well as the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding. If you’d like to harness her creative brains and dubious brawn to write for your blog, just stalk her on Twitter and ask. I’m “almost” sure she doesn’t bite. Well… like 95% sure.